I’m Emma and I’m currently working in Avionics as a graduate systems engineer at Thales. During school, I found problem-solving tasks the most exciting and was drawn to Maths and Science. I was always interested to know how things worked in the world around us and how new things were created and designed.
At A-level, I decided to study Maths, Further Maths and Physics. I also took an EPQ, where I investigated whether everything in the Universe is pre-determined in a mathematical sense. I always knew I wanted to go to University but struggled to pick a degree where I could apply things in a technical way.
I studied an integrated Masters in Aerospace Engineering at Bristol. I was fascinated with aircraft and space exploration and I wanted to get involved in making air travel more environmentally friendly. I want to see the world and learn about our planet whilst reducing the harmful effects of travelling. When I finished my degree I applied for various roles across the aerospace industry. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to end up doing as we had covered so many different topic areas at University.
I decided to apply for the graduate scheme at Thales. They give engineers the opportunity to work on different projects across a couple of placements in their first few years at work. This gives us the chance to develop a broad range of skills and learn about the business and the type of work the company is involved in. I am currently in my first placement as a systems engineer in Avionics and I find it so exciting that I have no idea what roles I will cover over my next few placements! Thales are really supportive in helping us discover what we are passionate about and I’m excited too.
On a typical day at work, I spend time learning about the technical aspects of the project and trying to understand what our product needs to do. I am currently working on creating a visual model of the product requirements so everyone in the team understands what the product needs to do. I also spend time analysing the potential risks of the product. I present these to the team to help them sell our product to customers and understand whether it meets their needs.
As a graduate, I’m also encouraged to get involved with volunteering and other extra activities outside of my day to day role. For example, I learnt how to fly the on-site simulators and can now assist with demonstrations, which is a lot of fun! I have also taken part in talks for schools and virtual careers fairs to encourage others to pursue engineering careers. This is something I found that influenced me when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do.
Some advice I would give is to be the change you want to see in the world. Engineering is typically a male-dominated industry. While this can be quite intimidating and off-putting if you don’t fit into this typical ‘engineer’ role, there will never be more equality in the field if we don’t follow what we are passionate about and put ourselves out there. If you want greater equality in engineering then why not be it?